Review: The Walking Dead The Best Defense Board Game

Designer: Matt Hyra
Year: 2013
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment, KOSMOS
Players: 1-4 (Solo Rules included)
Game Type: Co-operative

Have you ever wanted to be Rick in The Walking Dead so you can make different or better decisions? Now you can with The Best Defense board game. This game is a 1-4 player co-operative-style game were players take on the roles of Rick, Glenn, Andrea, Michonne, Daryl, or Maggie to protect the four locations from zombies while managing the resources in those areas. You’ll use 4 different types of resources (Weapons, Ammunition, Allies, and Food) to combat zombies and Event Card obstacles. Survive 12 rounds without everyone dying and at least one card in each of the resource supplies and you win!


An average setup time is roughly 5-7 minutes. Much of that time is shuffling the 4 resource stacks and Event Cards. After selecting survivors, you’ll randomly place the 4 location tiles in a square, then randomly place the resource decks next to the locations so that each location has 1 resource. After divvying out hit points (5), allies (2), and food (2), you’ll roll to place some zombies to begin the game. When you’ve gotten the hang of the setup, expect the initial set up time to drop.


During each round, there is a leader who passes out Event Cards, controls movement, and makes all final decisions in case of a disagreement. Before you start the round, it’s a good idea to make sure everyone knows about the Leader’s special ability. For example, Andrea can heal 1 hit point to anyone before her turn starts as the leader. Some abilities are useful during combat. After reading the ability, strategy is discussed with others (or yourself if solo). Event Cards are then dealt.

The leader goes first and the turn is as follows:
1)      The leader may move survivors to adjacent locations
2)      The leader may draw from the resource deck.
3)      If the leader chooses, they may trade with another survivor (at the same location).
4)      Then both Event Cards are played.

Once the leader takes their turn, non-leaders may do the following:
1)      The survivor may defy the leader by paying 1 food. This allows the player to move their survivor to an adjacent location.
2)      The survivor may draw from the resource deck.
3)      If the survivor chooses, they may trade with another survivor (at the same location).
4)      Then ONE of the Event Cards is played.

After all the turns are taken, it’s time for the combat phase. Players choose what weapon they wish to use and expend ammo (if applicable). Dice are rolled. For every roll of five (single dice or added together), one zombie is dispatched. Some weapons allow player rolls to be added to the group total in a single location. You can also use Allies to add 1 to the total of any dice.

The combat phase transitions into the zombie’s turn. Survivors will absorb damage from zombies if they are in the same locations. One zombie equals one hit point, which can be split between survivors at that locations. If there are no survivors, then any zombies left at the areas “eat” one resource card per zombie. So you see where the delicate balance of killing zombies to halt them from eating resource cards is just as important as staying alive. Things can go haywire because of the Event Cards, as most add zombies to locations, so undead management is significant, otherwise they can overrun your resources.

Once every survivor has had a turn, then the leader token moves to the next survivor, the round tracker moves up, and you can pay one food to heal one hit point. Then a new round begins!

If you want to ramp up the difficulty, there is a Beginner mode (players share Event Cards before decisions are made) and Expert mode (no information on Event Cards is shared). You can also choose to play with the Ulterior Motive cards. These cards give the players a unique goal to achieve. If the player completes the mission, the they can score a partial victory.


I’ve played The Best Defense both solo and multiplayer, and I prefer solo. I often play with 1 or 2 survivors, but I’ve been known to be a little cheeky and play 3 or 4. For me, the challenge of winning a game is more satisfying due to the chaos that can ensue. There are times when you look at what’s in front of you and think, There’s no way I can survive this round. It’s bleak, there’s no hope. But somehow, someway, you find a method to live just one more round.

There are a few changes in the rules for solo play. First, if there are 5 or fewer zombies in play, you MUST play both Event Cards; otherwise you choose which one to play. Second, when you taking a resource card, you can leave it at the location for another survivor to pick up instead of grabbing from the resource deck. Lastly, at the beginning of the game you draw 2 equipment cards instead of 1.


The Walking Dead: The Best Defense is a solid co-operative game. For soloists, the challenges and decision-making will appeal to most who like these types of games. The game does require some luck on the part of combat rolls and rolls to add zombies; however, you still need to make good choices and often think about the next round or two. Whether you’re playing 1, 2, 3, or 4 survivors, coordinating their abilities, managing weapons, ammo, and resources with each other can test your resolve. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead and a fan of cooperative games with solo options, then I recommend The Best Defense.

3.5 out of 5 We Roll Solos

            *Challenging solo play
            *Easy and fast setup time
            *Play your favorite The Walking Dead characters! (Except Carl. No one wants to play
            *Pictures of iconic scenes on the cards. Relive episodes!

            *Some reliance on dice rolling

            *Game is not for everyone (see Final Thoughts)

Gregory Gregory Author